In this Post I combined the three previous parts into one. Enjoy reading!
Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it. — John Mayer
And you’ll like it, that’s what I promise you! You only need to take the first step, and you’ll open yourself a whole new world. Starting to travel on my own was one of the best and most fulfilling decisions in my life. And now, I’ll try to convince you to take the first step and discover it for yourself. This topic is so big and important to me; I had to separate it into three parts. I’ll tell you some real stories to show you how amazing it is to travel by yourself, and how many things you’ll see, which you wouldn’t understand, and experience otherwise.
Most people are scared of traveling on their own because they fear to be alone, with nobody on their side. And that’s the first point I want to talk about.
Reason 1: You’re never alone!
People who travel on their own have this particular instinct – this instinct of finding and meeting other people who also go on their own. I experienced this so many times. If you’re traveling on your own, you’ll find someone to travel with or at least to speak to in the plane, train or bus. You’re not the only one traveling solo, so many other people do the same. And despite the fact you’re on your own, you don’t want to be lonely – there is a big difference between being on your own and being lonely – and it’s the same for these other solo travelers. This means that it is super easy to get to know each other. Let me explain this based on an example.
When I flew to Porto (Portugal) in March, I flew by myself. My plane had 6 hours delay, yes 6 hours… So, I sat in the airport with my computer looking up some things for the university. Suddenly we had to queue up to get some food vouchers. Waiting in this queue, I noticed a girl next to me standing there all by herself. I looked at her said: “Ohhh gosh, this is so annoying.” This was the moment we started talking, and in fact, she was also a solo traveler and was glad to meet someone too. After talking for a few minutes, we found out that we would stay in the same hostel and by coincidence we had even the same room. I spend nearly my entire journey with her, and we had a very good time. That’s how simple it can be.
Staying in Hostels with shared rooms is the next and by far the best way to meet new people. In addition to that, it is the cheapest way to travel. According to my experience, it is nearly impossible to stay more than two nights in a shared room and don’t meet at least one new person. Meeting people in Hostel rooms is the easiest thing on earth. This is the places where all solo travelers come together. With a question as simple as “Hey, where are you from?” I met tons of people. Every time I enter a new room, I ask the people from where they are, and like this, I start a conversation. This mostly leads to making plans together and have a good time with “stranger” people. Another example to illustrate how easy it is.
On my interrail through Scandinavia, I arrived at 7 pm in my Hostel in Gothenburg – exhausted from the train ride and a 4 km walk with my heavy back – I was glad to be in my hostel and to have a bed. When I entered my room – I hadn’t even closed the door – I heard a voice asking “Hey, where are you from?” It was a girl from Australia, sitting near her back to search for some clothes. I answered that I would be from Luxemburg and would be on an Interrail-travel. Another girl from Switzerland was in there too, so we started to have a conversation. After a few minutes, I asked them if they had planned anything for the evening. They said that there would be an organized evening from the hostel and they would go, and I should join them. We had a fantastic evening with a barbeque and went to a pub after. The next day I spend the whole day visiting Gothenburg with her, and she even joined me to Malmö.
Other good places or activities to meet new people are for example “Free Walking Tours.” You can find them in every major city. You’ll see the city, it’s cheap, and you’ll meet people for sure! In general, is taking part in tours an excellent way to meet people. And after the tour you can invite these new friends for dinner, like this you’ll spend the whole day in a company.
And then there are all these spontaneously things, that will happen where you’ll meet people you never thought you could meet people.
Once I met two girls when I only crossed a street, I looked for a shopping center in Copenhagen and asked them where the next one would be. They said that they’re going to a shopping center too and I could join them. So, I spend my afternoon with them, we had lunch and did a little bit of shopping.
In Stockholm, I walked next to a river and enjoyed the view when two girls asked me to take a photo of them. They asked me if I would be on my own and what I would be up to. After a quick chat, we decided to walk together back to the city center. They invited me for some drinks with their host (They did Couchsurfing), and we spend the evening near the river on a little beach with some beers.
These moments will last forever in my mind, and I can’t wait to have even more of them. Solo traveling doesn’t mean to be lonely at all! There are so many options to meet other tourists or locals. Often the most unexpected moments are the best ones!
Reason 2: If you want to be by yourself, you can be
And believe me, after some time you’ll appreciate these moments, and you’ll enjoy these moments, even more, when you return to your normal life. You’ll learn to appreciate the time you have for yourself, without anybody else. And if you get to the point where you can enjoy these moments, they will be real quality time for you.
Of course, you want to meet people and speak to somebody and have a laugh, but sometimes it is just right to be alone and to have time to think. You won’t have this much when you’re traveling with a friend or in a group. Going in a group or with somebody else always means to make a compromise and to decide things together. If you need your time in the morning, or you’re in a bad mood, the other person may not understand you and ask for attention. While solo traveling, you can stay away from people in the morning or at times you’re in a lousy mood for example.
But it’s not only this, solo traveling gives you the possibility to do whatever YOU want, and you don’t have to take care of somebody else. If you want to eat pizza you eat pizza; if you want to sleep all day, you sleep all day. You and only you can decide for yourself what’s on your schedule, not somebody else. For example, if I want to visit the city on my own, I start walking, and if I want to do it in a company, I take part in a walking tour or another tour. Sometimes I enjoy it to have a long walk through a city and watch and see what the city is like. I like it to get lost in my thoughts while sitting on a bench and enjoying the sun when I need a rest from all the walking. And if I have enough from being on my own, I take part in a pub crawl in the evening or met people in the Lobby of my Hostel. Being on my own doesn’t mean that I’m lonely, it means I enjoy the time for myself and have a good time all by myself because I decided to do so!
Reason 3: You can do what you want
As I already mentioned in the previous point, one of the best things is to do what you want. It’s not only about the decision to be on your own or to meet people. You can travel where you want and when you want without anybody holding you back. In March I went to Porto, and because I didn’t find somebody who had the time or money to come with me so, I decided to go by myself. And I had a perfect time there! The same applies to my WorldTravel, imagine how difficult it must be to choose a route in a group so that everybody is happy. And if I want to stay longer in a country or a place I do it, without asking someone or having a discussion. Or if you’re meeting people and you want to travel a while with them, you have the freedom of changing your plans and join them. On the other hand, if you meet people and after a while, you see that you do not have the best connection to them (and this will happen too) you can “walk away” and continue to do your thing.
You’re just FREE. People always speak of freedom – well solo traveling is the ultimate form of freedom!
Reason 4: You’ll meet people from all over the world
Shared Hostel rooms are the most internationalized places you’ll find. There are few places in the world where you can find a wider variety of people. Of course, the big nations like the USA, Australia, and Germany are always present, but apart from that, you’ll also meet people from most of the other countries in this world. If you’re staying with your travel buddy in private rooms, the chance of meeting people from all over the world is far smaller. And this argument directly leads me to the next point.
Reason 5: These people you meet along your way will inspire you, and you’ll start seeing things from another perspective
If you’re always with the same people in your hometown, you’ll see things the same for your entire life. There is no new input, giving you the need to overthink your ideas. It is the same as in your job; if you’re always working with the same team, you’ll stick to the same principles and methods forever. But as soon a new employee joins your team, he will bring new ideas and further input. And the more different his background is, the more his ideas will differ from yours. Maybe this can lead to conflicts, but in most cases, it leads to innovation and better methods. It is the same with new people you’ll meet on your journey. Their background is entirely different from yours, and this will give you the necessary input to overthink some things and to do them better. Sometimes one simple sentence from a stranger on a train will change your whole view of a topic. People from Australia see things differently than people from Europe and people from India will see them again in a different way. But that’s ok and even good like this. Maybe some of your ideas are good, but you look at them only from one angle, a stranger will show you the other perspectives, and perhaps you’ll see that you could change little things with a significant effect. And the same goes the other way around. Maybe your ideas are in fact really good; you’ll change other people’s perspective in the same way. And I think this is a great thing, you can put your ideas in the world and change something out there, maybe only little things but still, they will affect.
Reason 6: You’ll become more open
While solo traveling you are in some way forced to meet new people. That might be a little bit difficult in the beginning, but after some time you’ll become a lot more open, and you’ll become a real champion in meeting and connect to new people. And this also applies for the time after your travel. Meeting someone on a train? No Problem. Connecting to people at work? Easies than ever before. It will be so easy to meet people, and you’ll enjoy it to meet them. In fact, you’ll need this input of new people, ideas, and conversations in your life. And this will be a big plus point for your career and other parts of your life.
Reason 7: You’ll get some opportunities and see things you wouldn’t notice while traveling in a group
In Madrid, I stand on the couch in the VIP-area just behind the DJ with a bottle of Jägermeister and some guys I met only 30 minutes before. One evening in Stockholm, I sat on a little beach by a river and had a fantastic view, in addition, I had a beer in my hand and a friendly company. That’s how to spend the perfect summer evening in Stockholm.
But catching these moments was only possible because I traveled on my own. I met these people because I was on my own looking for some company. They took me with them, and I experienced some moments I will never forget. I can’t wait to see how many incredible experiences I’ll have on my WorldTravel. Randomly meeting people will often lead to the best moments and memories.
The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before. – Alan Ashley-Pitt